Foreign citizens interested in applying for an EB-5 investor visa will no doubt have several questions about the visa itself and the application process. They may wonder what they need to do to qualify for the program and how to go about applying for the visa once the qualification requirements are met.
The reason for so much hesitation is not unfounded, as U.S. immigration policy is inherently complex and continues to evolve. This is one of the main reasons why foreign investors should work with a qualified and experienced immigration attorney to facilitate the process.
Funding the EB5
In order to qualify for an EB-5 investor visa, foreign investors must invest at least $500,000 into an American based venture from a predesignated, hard hit and financially struggling industry, or at least $1,000,000 into a business of any other industry. For many foreign investors, coming up with the minimum required amount of investment capital is not a challenge.
However, the United States has notoriously stringent proof of income requirements when it comes to foreign funds being allowed to enter the U.S. economy. Any income earned by a foreign investor to be invested into a U.S. based business venture must have been earned through a provably legitimate source. The federal government requires foreign investors to show that their investment funds were legitimately earned in order to avoid promotion of organized crime and terrorism.
So long as an income has been earned legitimately, there are nearly no limits on where the funds can come from. If a foreign investor earns the money from rental property, this should not present any problems. To show the income was earned legitimately, foreign investors can present bank statements and tax documents along with an EB-5 visa application.
In addition to meeting minimum investment amount requirements, the cash invested must create at least 10 jobs for American workers, if the cash is invested in a new U.S. based venture, or must expand a business’s net worth or employee force by at least 40%, if the cash is invested into an existing U.S. based venture. Additionally, the investment must have already been made, or a substantial step toward the investment already made, by the time the EB-5 visa application is submitted.
One thing that investors need to realize is that simply making an investment is not enough. After an application is approved, a conditional visa can be issued. If the business venture into which the capital was invested, however, is unable to sustain the 10 America jobs or the 40% expansion of the business for a set amount of time, then the investor will be unable to transition from the conditional visa to a permanent visa.
Regional Center Benefits
Along with investing directly into a business venture, foreign investors can invest in Regional Centers, which are privately held corporate entities that direct and manage EB-5 investment funds into regionally based business ventures on behalf of foreign investors.
This offers a bit of security to the foreign investor because those who invest in Regional Centers are more likely to see their investment succeed than those who try investing into a business directly.